This New Season

When your world gets shaken, and you feel unstable, get so close to God that you can actually “fear not.” Identify your strengths and resources, honor their boundaries but be shameless in accepting their help. Discover what makes you feel fully alive and actively pursue your passions. Consider the costs of each step toward them, as well as the cost of stagnancy. Go feeling empowered, and if you lose that feeling of empowerment, go back to the beginning and meditate on your strength and who you were designed to be. We were always meant to do this life in community.

FIRED
For the past few years I’ve worked in or with dental offices as part of, and supporting the reception team. I’ve held pretty dynamic roles and have enjoyed the nature of the work, most days. At the most recent office, without getting in to the nitty gritty, I was FIRED. Ouch. It was such a blow to my ego. I had been casually looking for other opportunities, and had even interviewed at a different dental office before being fired, so losing that specific role didn’t sting, but I had never been fired before and that was a pill to swallow. I woke up the next day and when my alarm went off, I didn’t get out of bed as quickly as usual. I was greeted not by the beginning of another busy day, but a blaring and somewhat disabling question. What do I do? Most mornings were routine, my new husband and I had just established a rhythm that was working for us, and the closer we stuck to it the smoother the mornings would be. But now, literally every step was questionable. I didn’t have to get up early, because there was no timeline. In fact I could let our little boy sleep in because he didn’t actually have to go to preschool since I didn’t have anywhere to be… Well, Sterling went to preschool and we kept things as routine as possible. Regardless of the conclusions we came to, you can see how a day that began without explicit purpose also began the unraveling of my mind.  I remembered five days previously, a small group of people at my church prayed for me and one person specifically encouraged me. She felt God prompting her to tell me, “Do NOT worry about how you will transition from this season to the next.” The only thing she knew about me was my name. This encouragement was deep at face value but came also with a sense that God really saw me, heard my prayers, knew my concerns and most of all He cared about all of that. This is an intimacy I would get fired every day for, to know God’s closeness like this.

WHAT DO I WANT TO DO?
I realized quickly during that first day at home, that I had a few seriously basic questions to answer. Primarily, I had to answer Alex’s question, “What do you want to do?”

Hold on, what?
What do you mean “want” to do? Dental reception… er, right?

If you know my story, you probably know it in part so, let me string a little bit of it together for you. After high school, I moved out to California and worked in Yosemite National Park. (Glorious place, go!) When you work there, you apply to one company who staffs the entire park. You get what you get, and take the job you’re given. After that I traveled a lot, and had to work when I could, at what ever job was available, in order to support my gypsy lifestyle. Shortly thereafter I settled in to a mountain town for a few years and loved working in a coffee shop, then an espresso bar. With the news that I would be expecting a child, I figured I would need my parents support so I moved back to Michigan. There again, I took what ever work I could find. For years, as a single mom, I took ALL the work I could find. Retail, service, direct sales, corporate, childcare, college. I tried everything and it was always about necessity, the circumstances, and supporting myself and this sweet little babe. Three years in to single-parenthood I got the best opportunity I had come by, and that’s how I began in dentistry. Even then it was a new field that I could grow  in passion for, but taking the job was still about my best opportunity until I found something better, as if I could grapple up some income ladder by hoping from one industry to the next.  Things began to change when I met, my now husband, Alex. My previous work life has always been, without exception, dictated by necessity. This question of “what do I want to do?” still felt as abstract today as it did when I was asked as a kindergartener. I may be 27 years old, but I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

Finally, I have found myself in a place where I can actually pursue what I want do to, not what I have to do, and it has taken a serious shift of mind to embrace that. I had to wrap my head around the fact that this short season of proactive pursual, while unemployed, does not mean near instant poverty for my family. Marriage is a lot of things, and in this moment its the kind of blessing that supports me in finding where I thrive. I am free from the oppression of necessity and abound in opportunity to grow in who I am! I am SO thankful for my husband and his selflessness to give me this time of reflection, instead of asking me to “just take anything and we’ll figure the rest out later.” Praise The Lord for a husband who’s concern is me living in to my original design, and passion, not just for a paycheck.

PASSION
It took a lot of clearing my mind, which came with processing and purging the deep hurts of being fired. That nitty-gritty part which is unnecessary to share still left me feeling discriminated, hated, unworthy, ruined for future hire and angry. I was very angry about the grounds for my dismissal and these are not feelings you can make clear decisions through. Once I had processed a little and prayed a lot, some things began coming together, and finally clicked after a dream one night.

As I slept, I dreamt that I was on horseback, in a circle arena. I was on a dependable, but small red quarter horse. I liked him just fine but didn’t feel attached. Then walked by a huge and breathtakingly beautiful black and white paint horse, led by a rough, broad shouldered, burly man. He walked this majestic animal over to a stall and began brushing him in preparation for a saddle. I was instantly connected to the horse and knew he was meant for me, but also that it was not the right time. God speaks in a lot of ways, and I have learned (and love) that he often speaks to me in dreams, like these. Now horses in dreams, usually mean passion, drive and power. I heard God say in this dream that He is guiding my passions, and “saddling up” while I sharpen my skills on a smaller animal. Soon, it’ll be time to switch horses and get on to those big beautiful passions I want to chase after, but for now, I am to wait.

Alex and I married in October, but delayed our honeymoon to January, because Michigan is a whole lot colder then, and Costa Rica would still be HOT. Our honeymoon was full of surfing, yoga, jungle driving and pondering what we are most passionate about while we swung in hammocks and drank from fresh coconuts. It was four days after our return from CR that I was fired, so thankfully I had fresh grasp of these soul searching times. While overseas I was reading “Waking The Dead” by John Eldridge. He takes a whole book to expound on the quote by St. Irenaeus, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” I found I became most fully alive when I was empowering other people. I’ve often been the friend that others confide in, think out-loud to, ask for advice, and come to with heavy hearts. I used to think I needed to solve their problems for them, but it turns out that even when I don’t, but people still walk away from our time together feeling encouraged, empowered, or at least less defeated I feel full. Not fulfilled, but full of energy and excited to see what they will do! Life isn’t about chasing an emotional high, but in healthy situations, it’s a good indication you’re operating in a place of passion. We all have different gifts, and one of mine is to be an encourager. I was a terrible cheerleader for those three weeks in 6th grade, but when it comes to personal matters I make a solid hype girl!

NOW WHAT?
Okay so the goal is to empower people, but you can do that anywhere. Arguably, you should do that no matter where you work. So what now? I pondered on my life experiences, and what I love doing, and here’s where I’ve arrived. I’m going to develop myself into a professional encourager. I am going to teach yoga, and be a doula, encouraging and supporting women, their partners, and their babies. I’ll offer to share my love for, and the power in, essential oils and truly nutritious foods. I want to connect people, so we can have this community we’ve been designed to live in. If I end up totally nerding out, I’ll even start sharing my passion for this learning I’ve just begun about Natural Family Planing and avoiding pregnancy without harmful contraceptives.

To be perfectly honest, it’s been weeks since I’ve made these decisions and progress is slow despite momentum building. I have applied for jobs that will cary me through the developmental season of  getting proper training and certifications for these things I am so passionate about, but now comes a lesson in patience and persistence. Particularly persistence of faith to “fear not” even when the circumstances I think I see working out, begin to change. I can see it coming like a tidal wave, and I’m a dreading it a little, because these things take time. I have never been gifted in patience.

When your world gets shaken, and you feel unstable, get so close to God that you can actually “fear not.” Identify your strengths and resources, honor their boundaries but be shameless in accepting their help. Discover what makes you feel fully alive and actively pursue your passions. Consider the costs of each step toward them, as well as the cost of stagnancy. Go feeling empowered, and if you lose that feeling of empowerment, go back to the beginning and meditate on your strength and who you were designed to be. We were always meant to do this life in community.

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Already Won

Victories you’ve achieved are ones you live from, and can share with others.
Sharing testimonies increases faith, so sometimes it’s okay to just pray for yourself and ask for a victory. Maybe the lesson you’re supposed to learn is not HOW to do something better except to lean on God, and ask for a win so you can live from victory instead of for it. It’s day’s exactly like this one for which I got my arm tattoo that says, “Already won.” It’s hard to remember that we live from the victory which has already been won on the cross, instead of always striving for survival. I have to believe that Jesus has overcome the world because that’s what he said and I can’t afford to believe differently than he said, but there’s a difference in believing and knowing. I’ve learned this to be one of my greatest battles in life. I am quick to know with my mind. It makes sense so I believe it but how much do I , really? When I’m faced with a direct challenge to what God has said, how far can I go before I stop believing? When do I lose my peace? When do my emotions seem to become more powerful than the solid truth that is God’s unfailing word?

Today was such a test. I write this speaking from cerebral faith and belief, but with a broken heart and hoping to see God move this mountain. I know what he’s said, but I may have reached the end of my faith for today. Perhaps that’s why it’s called a gift of faith. Because when it makes sense it’s not hard to believe, but when you’re challenged and it DOESN’T make sense it is still no less true. It’s just harder to keep believing. That deep breath of peace, the one you have when it makes no sense but you’ve given up working it over in your mind or trying to make sense of it because you just feel like it’s going to be okay. Is that the gift of faith?

I took my car into the shop for some well overdue repairs. My timing belts (yes, two in a Subaru) needed to be replaced six months ago. For the mechanics reading this, my tension pulley was broken so it had essentially been rubbed flat on one side and was tearing through the ribs like a hungry man fresh off a deserted island. I knew it would be a couple hundred dollars, but after keeping an eye on the damage for a few months I finally decided it could wait no longer. Turned out to need much more work than I knew and today was a three hundred dollar bill, with an additional $5,000 prognosis. Let me also acknowledge that this is entirely a first world problem! I get it, I have a car and at that one worth putting money into keeping. but for a single mom, or anyone for that matter, just trying to figure out how to keep putting one foot in front of the other, this is kind of a devastating blow. I sat in the mechanics office working  (praise the Lord I can bring work with me!) frantically scribbling down my budget, while the office manager kept giving me updates on what they found, like a scrub nurse in the ER. I kept re-working it to accommodate the days repair, feeling less and less hopeful each time.

So I ask myself again, how much do I really believe in God’s goodness? I drove home with my most urgent needs covered, but still a heavy heart, resolute to keep my head up. my resolution failed me. I had found the end of my confidence “of this; That I will see the goodness of the Lord in the lad of the living.” Psalm 27:13. Good thing God can handle our doubt. I believe in my head that He is good and will take care of my every need, but I can’t help feeling doubt in my heart. My circumstances cast such a heavy shadow.

I’ll be wrestling this for a while I’m sure. All I know to do is keep reminding myself that feelings are temporary, so is my car and my circumstances. God’s faithfulness is eternal and unwavering no matter how I feel. And it’s okay to feel bad about it for a while. Maybe this will be one more testimony I can stand on, and share with others in the future, that they may have more faith too. In the mean time I’ll do my best to worship who I know God is, and use it as my weapons of war agains doubt and fear.

Settling In.

Ah, it feels like home. The Christmas tree was the first to go up, the beds are made and the fire has been roaring. Somehow, I’ve been able to keep the house mostly tidy, but I think I’m attributing that to the fact that we’ve spent less than half of our waking hours IN the house. I am so happy to be settling in to our farm house, and farm life, but let me suggest that moving the week before Christmas is not the best plan. In our case, it was mostly unavoidable. Lease terms and home rental legalities reigned in our decisions, but honestly?….

Sparing the rant, the past two weeks have been fueled by coffee and support from the incredible people in my life, including Sterling, my threenager. Yes, he has had his moments and napping has been sparse but I’m genuinely impressed with how well he has handled this extreme change in life style, and how much he is thriving! I shouldn’t be so surprised, but it’s been a joy watching him love this new season of life as much as I do.

We’ve overcome impressively low temperatures and serious snowfall on moving day, maintaining a 40 hour work/preschool week while adding in about half of our committed farm chores, last minute Christmas shopping and gift crafting, Staying up until all hours of the morning to finish the days’s “to-do” list, all while navigating life in a new town. It’s been awesome to see what I am capable of in an adaptive capacity, and has revealed strength in an area I should have been expecting to be challenged. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and its only been 12 days.

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Helping Ms. Beckie collect eggs

The end of December is a naturally reflective time of year. I do my best to live a thankful life and have found this wild, busy season to still be overwhelmed with things, moments, and people to be thankful for. In this moment I am incredibly thankful for learning to go to bed even if I haven’t put that rewarding check mark next to every task on my list for the day. Personal fact, I have a hard time going to sleep before tidying my room. Most nights, if I haven’t already, I’ll even make my bed before crawling in. I’m not so uptight about everything, but one of my quirks is obsessively tidying my room. I’ve even come to appreciate letting go of that.

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Peacocks on the roof.

In learning to stretch my adaptability, I’ve discovered a deeper thankfulness for the serenity prayer, and applying it a little more practically (as opposed to theoretically) to my life. Parenthood, and adulthood alike, demand people take more responsibility in life and I think I’ve been mistaking that as demand to be in control. I do not have control, nor do I need to take control of many aspects of life. I believe that to be a vital differentiation. Control puts the outcome of all things on your shoulders while responsibility only requires you to manage how you respond to the world and events around you. Many things are outside my control, but I can take responsibility for how I respond to those things and stop holding myself accountable to the things in which I have no sway anyway.

Danny Silk speaks about relationships in his teaching called Loving On Purpose and it struck me when he said, in regards to a parent responding harshly to a child’s poor choice,

” you say, “I do this because I love you” but that’s not true. You’re doing it because you want to control me.”

Two days later, I should have remembered this a little better, but thankfully I have someone I love to gently remind me.

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Perhaps his favorite, the baby chicks.

Sterling was eating cereal for a quick snack before a VERY late attempt at a nap. I was exhausted and wanted a nap myself. I sat on the couch while he finished up and as his hunger was quickly appeased he turned into his over-tired-silly-self. He started shoving his whole face into the bowl and looking up at Alex and I with the drippiest milk goatee and cheerio ‘stache I have EVER seen…. The grin on his face was adorable but my exhaustion lead me to tired-plea with him to stop goofing around, making a mess, and just eat. Without missing a beat Alex leans over and kindly reminds me to let him be 3.

I supposed in this situation I could have (and would have) tried to control Sterling, and hurry him off to a nap. I guarantee it would have led to a stressful fight toward the bed and absolutely no nap. Instead, we laughed at his silly personality, celebrated his goofiness and then he bounced off to a brief nap. I had no business controlling him, nor do I want to teach him that he should be controlled. I did take responsibility for how I responded, and turns out, we all had a better day for it. I wanted a peaceful surrounding, and went about it by trying to control my son, when instead I was much more successful by instead taking responsibility for my reaction, my inside world.

“If you put a pauper in a palace he will turn the palace into a prison. If you put a prince in into a prison he will turn the prison into a palace. That’s the story of Joseph. You always reproduce the environment around that you cultivate within you. ”
– Kris Vallotton

There is so much more to that quote, but for now, I’ll leave it at this.

Farm Life, Day One.

If you would have told me, six months ago today, that before Christmas I would be living on a 300 acre farm in a city an hour away from where I was living at the time,  I probably would have looked at you like you were crazy and asked what phsychadelics you ate for breakfast. These past six months have been host to some of the most wonderful, fast paced, intentional, and unforeseen events of my life. I truly wish I had done a better job of keeping this little journal updated as the story unfolded so far, but all the same, I have a feeling that the best is yet to come. I’ve gone from mountain-mom-stuck-in-the-city, to farm-living, remote-workin’ mamma. Here’s our story, starting now.

December 16th was the official move in day, despite having moved our things to the farm a week prior. Sterling and I arrived Friday evening, just in time to have dinner and visit with my boyfriend, Alex, and his family, before Grammy left to spend some of the winter in California. We settled in and built a fire that evening, enjoying its warmth in the glow of the christmas tree lights. The rest of the weekend followed suit, learning what my beginning responsibilities on the farm would be, continuing the seemingly unending project of unpacking box after box, and learning how to most efficiently heat the house with a wood burning stove. The stove is not a new skill for me, but one that absolutely needs sharpening. The weather has been merciless. Our first four days here have been sub-freezing temperatures without breaking. It has been such a lovely change of pace to wake up to the lowing of 60 cattle at pasture out our door, as opposed to the whistle and rattle of trains and cars passing all night long.

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Playing in one of the cattle pastures

I spent most of Monday feeling like I was living a dream, working my professional life, as well as interacting with the animals that keep my family fed and healthy. I took my darling boy to his first day at his new preschool, and he ran off joyfully after kissing me goodbye. Any parent can attest to the reassurance of their child’s joyful departure, especially in a new place. After arriving back at the farm, I set up my desk and “went to work” for the dental practices, beginning my day job. Between responsibilities for work, I got to get down to brass tacks washing basket after basket of eggs and cleaning the community rooms, kitchen and store. This level of multitasking was challenging, to say the least, and will take some serious getting used to. admittedly, I may have been slightly distracted by the deep feeling of value in the work my hands were doing. Selfish, maybe, but the emotional high of feeling like your work is deeply valuable makes it easier to be consistently joyful.

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The first of many baskets of eggs

Let me tell you the highlights of this farm where we now live and work. Lake Village Farm is over 300 acres, and is a non-profit organization prioritizing the preservation of the land and livestock farming practices that focuses on the animals quality of life. For those of you that know me personally, are you thinking, “This is SO Morgan!” yet? There is also a huge priority placed on education and helping the community get back in touch with where exactly our food comes from.(p.s. it’s not It shouldn’t be a factory!) Lake Village is home to at least 15 other families who actively contribute to the daily running of the farm, some of which have been here for over 15 years. The farm borders a lake, and is one of the most diverse and lively landscapes I’ve had the blessing of enjoying. This is the beginning of something new and beautiful, and I can not wait to keep sharing my crash course in the agricultural lifestyle.

I live an incredible life, and the gift of the lifestyle I was invited into is the best thing I never would have asked for this holiday season. Thank you Lord, for knowing me better than I know myself, and giving me more than I feel I deserve. What a gracious God, to love me this lavishly.